From the Desk of the Mayor - May 2022
This month has been another blur of activity. My, how fast the year has already gone.
I’ve been reflecting on this past week’s travels with Public Works Director Ken Hash and Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Wallin to Washington, D.C., on behalf of the City of Longview to visit our federal congressional delegation, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. One of the blessings our municipality enjoys is the relationship with our federal and state lobbyists. State lobbyists Josh Weiss and Annika Vaughn, from Gordon Thomas Honeywell, and federal lobbyists Joel Rubin and Samantha Lostia, from CFM Advocates, have been equally essential in helping our city make the necessary connections with our state and federal legislators to help advance our city’s legislative agenda.
How does that translate for the citizens of Longview? These lobbyists essentially work directly with our state and federal legislators to communicate our city’s needs to improve safety, infrastructure, transportation, mobility, beautification, and all the things that will keep our city strong for the future. Keeping this communication channel open and active often yields substantial state and federal funding for our community projects that would otherwise not be available through the city budget alone.
I have been asked many times lately, “What is the greatest take-away from your trip to D.C.?” I can’t state it clearer - that communication and the intent to share our city’s gratitude for the allocation of funds already received is one of the key factors for partnering with our representatives to support our community. Yes – the value of sharing a personal and professional “thank you for looking out for Longview, WA” with our legislators was a huge part of the trip. Our most recent “thank you” was for the allocation of $290k for the Crisis Intervention Team. These funds will be used immediately in hiring two additional mental health specialists to help with our Behavioral Health Unit, a team that works directly with our Longview Police Department for Individuals experiencing mental health and substance abuse addictive behaviors.
The 2022 Federal Legislative Agenda includes the following:
- Columbia Heights Road Safety Improvement Project - This project will improve the one-mile section of Columbia Heights Road between Cascade Drive and Fishers Lane, and would include new sidewalks for safe pedestrian access and a walking route for students attending Cascade Middle School and Columbia Heights Elementary School.
- Downtown Streetscape Project - This project would complete the final block of improvements to Commerce Avenue. The improvements of street, sidewalk, lighting and pedestrian friendly improvements will attract more visitors, customers and businesses benefitting Longview’s downtown district.
- Clark Creek Master Pump Station - This project will replace the five aging booster stations with a master pump station and eliminate the need for expensive maintenance of the five booster stations and water lifts, and will increase water quality, water turnover and chlorine residuals. Making these changes now could save $2 million in construction costs and $40 million in maintenance and operations over the 100-year life of the system.
- De-Escalation Police Training Simulator - With the continuing increase in violent incidents involving individuals experiencing mental health conditions and substance use disorders within the community, it has become necessary for officers to be trained in de-escalation. This training tool will help officers gain experience in a safe training environment, which results in reinforcing good tactics and decision-making in volatile conditions.
- SW Washington Airport Fuel Rank and Taxiway/Apron Rehabilitation - Longview is the largest city that shares our regional airport, and it is necessary at this time to advocate for funding to support and replace an old fuel tank and rehabilitate the taxiway/apron of the airport. Upgrading the airport’s aging infrastructure will ensure continued air travel for life support and multiple commercial and private businesses within our community.
Sharing in this experience to meet with our federal partners representing our state and city has been a pleasure. My mother-in–law always used to say, “Can’t hurt, might help.” For me, it is fair to say that the privilege of sharing gratitude for continued support was worth the trip.
Blessings to all,
Mayor MaryAlice Wallis